by Dennis Dalman
A preliminary 2019 budget and levy that could raise city property taxes by 1.16 percent was approved unanimously by the Sartell City Council at its last meeting.
The preliminary levy is the maximum amount the city can levy. The council, however, can decrease that amount, and its departments will continue to look for expenses that could be trimmed or cut before a final budget/levy is adopted.
The city is projecting a more or less “flat” tax rate in the coming year, which meets the council’s goal of long-term stable tax rates. Currently, the tax rate in Sartell is the lowest of the cities in the greater St. Cloud area, and Sartell has received high praise from accountants for keeping its budget and taxes so relatively low.
The preliminary general fund budget for 2019 is $7,270,350. The tax levy for that general fund is $5,366,544, but the total preliminary levy is actually $6,767,127 because, in addition to the general fund, tax revenue must be received to cover the following: ice arena abatement amount ($11,234), streets abatement ($440,000), 2007 debt service ($315,434), 2009 debt service ($215,000) and public facility project Phase I ($418,915).
The portion of the city’s budget not funded by taxes is covered by other sources of income, such as fees, state and federal aid. It is estimated Sartell will receive about $214,000 in local government aid from the state in 2019, although that amount is not yet “set in stone,” as was noted at the council meeting.
Major items in the 2019 budget include the East Sartell Street Reconstruction Project and the new Public-Safety Facilities Project planned for 2019. The latter is the construction of a police station/fire hall.
Tax notices will be sent to every property owner in Sartell sometime in November. At that time, residents can see the impact of taxes for each governmental unit. A public tax hearing will take place starting at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, at Sartell City Hall so that council members can hear input from residents. Sometime thereafter, the council will consider approving a final budget-and-levy amount.